Thursday, April 19, 2007

Interview with Jenn (Continued)

Further, I’ve worried for some time that blogging, by its definition, excludes lower income people, who cannot afford to host their own blog, or cannot afford the time commitment it takes to blog consistently. Most prominent bloggers are either full-time bloggers or can set aside time during the day to write and edit meaningful posts; blogging excludes the illiterate and those who don’t have reliable internet access. I think this is a fundamental weakness in blogging-as-activism that has yet to be satisfactorily addressed. -Jenn

Jenn of Reappropriate.com and I have continued our conversation. More great insights!

Interview

A Blog Without a Bicycle: In your description of your blogging history, you mention that you have only kept a “traditional blog” for two years. What exactly do you mean by this? What constitutes a “traditional blog” for you? How do you distinguish between blogs and online diaries, etc?

Jenn: I started out doing online web design and development, so I define a “traditional blog” versus an “online diary” by technology and by purpose. When Reappropriate was first conceived of, I used it primarily as a diary, and generated diary entries by hand/hard-coding. Most of my entries had to do with my feelings and personal events occurring in my life. However, I eventually realized that what I enjoyed about my diary was sharing my opinion rather than my day-to-day activities, and as I became more involved in political activism, I decided to re-invent my blog as a political activism/current events blog. As I began to blog more frequently, I gave up on hard-coding each entry, and opted to publish via online blogger publication software (Blogger.com), before eventually transitioning to Wordpress. So, by distinguishing between my blog and its roots as a diary, I am acknowledging how my blog’s technology and purpose has changed over time. Looking back at my old entries, my blog is almost nothing like it was when it first started.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: I’m curious about the title of your blog. What made you choose Reappropriate.com?

Jenn: Appropriation of Asian/Asian American culture in the form of Orientalism and fetishization of the East has always been an interesting issue for me. I feel that much of the way the West has interacted with Asian/Asian American people is due to this Orientalist perspective, which has led to the Asian/Asian American community allowing itself to be defined in the American landscape largely by non-Asian influences. Reappropriate.com was named because I believe that the Asian/Asian American community needs to start our community-building efforts by re-appropriating our identity and narrative. Eventually, this word has come to symbolize the general need for all minority identities to stand up for ourselves and work towards social justice.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: You explain that one of your motivations for creating your blog was increasing the Asian American feminist presence online, if I understand correctly. Do you feel that there has been a change in the blogosphere since you began this effort? Further, are there any groups that you feel are underrepresented in the feminist blogosphere today?

Jenn: I did mention that when I started blogging, it was right when blogging really started becoming popular and accessible. Back when I started, there was no existing collective of Asian American feminist bloggers, or even very many APIA bloggers who consistently blogged primarily on political analysis and identity politics discussion. Since I started blogging, the Technorati blog category, “Asian American” has grown from just myself to over twenty different blogs. I also started APIAblogs.net, which is a syndicated blog community modeled after feministblogs.org, and which currently boasts over 30 member blogs. I definitely feel like there has been an improvement in the visibility of the Asian American politic in the blogosphere since I started blogging. I don’t think I had much to do with it, but I certainly think it’s been great to observe.

In my opinion, the feminist blogosphere has wonderfully capitalized on group debate as a means of exploring feminist thought. However, I am concerned that feminists of colour are underrepresented within the feminist blogging community. I think the reasons for this aren’t simple, but I think the solution is greater collaboration between feminist blogs and feminist of colour blogs while respecting the fact that both perspectives are different and equally viable.

Further, I’ve worried for some time that blogging, by its definition, excludes lower income people, who cannot afford to host their own blog, or cannot afford the time commitment it takes to blog consistently. Most prominent bloggers are either full-time bloggers or can set aside time during the day to write and edit meaningful posts; blogging excludes the illiterate and those who don’t have reliable internet access. I think this is a fundamental weakness in blogging-as-activism that has yet to be satisfactorily addressed.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: I’ve never participated in live-blogging and I am not entirely familiar with it. Would you mind sharing your experiences or perspectives on this blogging technique?

Jenn: Sure! I found live-blogging to be a fun way to include readers in a common event, and to share the experience with them. Also, afterwards, my live-blogs have ended up being good summaries for readers who miss the event. I started live-blogging the Oscars, and then transitioned to reality television shows that have implications towards race activism (e.g. FX’s “Black/White”). I’ve experimented with different formats and styles of live-blogging, and have found that the easiest way to do it is to leave the television on and write a play-by-play of what’s happening, along with snarky comments to intersperse a little analysis. Obviously, you need to be a pretty fast typist but I’ve found that my live-blogs usually get re-linked as summaries and are great at stimulating discussion. I continue to do it mainly with shows I already plan on watching.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: Your description of what qualifies for you as a feminist blog is really interesting. You wrote that, “In my opinion, a “feminist blog” is one that is maintained by a self-identified feminist and that periodically considers issues of feminism and gender equality. I’m not of the opinion that a feminist blog need be pro-feminist (although, obviously, it’s unlikely that a self-identified feminist would blog anti-feminist material), need be blogged by predominantly female bloggers, or that a feminist blog be a safe space for the feminist mindset.” I’m not quite if I completely understand what you mean. Generally, I would agree with your points about a feminist blog being one that is self-identified by the blogger or that it would not have to always focus solely on feminism. And, personally, I think that one can be a feminist regardless of one’s gender or sex. Further, I think there is room for feminist blogs to be spaces for working out conflicts between different feminisms and internal conflicts within specific feminist groups. Are these ideas the ones you are getting at? Or have I missed your point?

Jenn: Yes, that is a good summary of my ideas – I’m sorry if I wasn’t being too articulate. The only extra idea is that I believe that there must be some discussion of feminism. I don’t think being a feminist is enough – the blog must also address feminist/gender equality issues on occasion. I’ve seen several blogs that claim to be an Asian American political blog, for example, that blog almost entirely on food, homework, etc.


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